(updated/corrected @ 12 noon)
FIACONA Accuses Modi Government of Hampering Relief Efforts of Christian Charities by Mandating More Red Tape:
May 16, 2021, Washington DC. Federation of Indian American Christian Association of North America (FIACONA) accused the Government of India of hampering the efforts of non-governmental agencies
(NGOs) in the middle of the pandemic.
The government of India implemented a set of bureaucratic regulations by amending a 1976 law called Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) last September. Christian charities and other
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across India are required to have permission under this 1976 law to receive donations from overseas.
The new amendment put in place in the middle of a pandemic last September mandated the charities to open a new bank account at a particular New Delhi branch of the State Bank of India, before
March 31, 2021, regardless of where the charity is located or operating from. Additionally, after they open such an account they are required to get additional approval from the Ministry of Home
Affairs to operate that new account.
Many charities have managed to open this account in New Delhi before the deadline as directed while many others could not. But even those who
managed to open the account before the deadline have run into bottlenecks and red tape. Many charities have pointed out that corruption and nuanced procedures are common problems besides the absence
of many officials who have not showed up to work due to COVID situation. As a result charities are unable to receive much needed funds to help the suffering people during this
“The current stringent FCRA rules that were put in place by the Government are jeopardizing many donor’s plans to provide equipment like oxygen concentrators and other essential supplies from
around the world in providing needed help to hospitals especially in rural areas” said Mr. Koshy George, President of FIACONA.
“Unless the Modi Government shows more flexibility towards charitable donations from abroad by suspending some of these bureaucratic provisions of the FCRA, more lives would be lost as a result”
Mr. George cautioned.
These FCRA regulations were put in place for the purpose of monitoring and controlling Christian and other religious minority charitable and educational institutions as part of the Hindu
nationalist agenda to minimize their appeal and reduce their influence on the society at-large.
Other secular NGOs who would not toe the government line also paid a price.
However, NGOs affiliated with Hindu nationalist groups continue to collect money from unsuspecting donors in Western Countries and channel them mostly towards sectarian work without any hindrance
FIACONA appeals to the Indian Government to suspend these rules that created the current impediments and submit them later for a panel review to ease the restrictions on a permanent basis so that
the needy will not suffer in a future crisis.
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FIACONA WELCOMES THE THE ANNUAL REPORT FROM STATE DEPARTMENT
(In favor of
May 12, 2021, Washington, DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) welcomes the Annual Religious Freedom Report released today by the State Department.
According to the US State Department, “ there were reports of religiously motivated killings, assaults, riots, discrimination, vandalism, and actions restricting the right of individuals to
practice and speak about their religious beliefs.”.
The number of incidents hindering the rights of the people to believe and practice their faiths have gone up several times in many parts of India for the reporting period.
The fact that India prides herself as a democratic state makes it even more critical for her to behave like one respecting the fundamental rights of every citizen and not undermine any sections of
The President of FIACONA Mr. Koshy George said, “I am worried that the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities continues even during the Coronavirus lockdown and Prime Minister
Modi’s silence on these critical issues is very disheartening. ”
He also said, “Thousands of NGOs have their hands tied from providing relief for millions of people suffering from COVID 19 infections in India, because of lack of funds after the government of
India restricted the flow of funds to thousands of Christian charities”.
Mr. John Prabhudoss, the Chairman of FIACONA pointed out that despite holding elections, India has become an "autocracy". India is a democracy only on the paper. Unfortunately, a substantial
percentage of the population seems to approve of the direction in which the country is headed", he said.
It is becoming more and more common knowledge that non-state actors like the militias affiliated with Mr. Modi’s BJP government are increasingly violent in the past few years. Many of these
non-state actors are also well represented in the government at both state and national levels.
FIACONA strongly recommends that the US government must stop shying away from taking the lead in sanctioning non-state actors and specific individuals in India who advocate and/or perpetrate
violent acts against Christian and other religious minorities.
FIACONA urges President Biden to validate the finding of this report on India and accept the recommendations put forward by USCIRF when such sanctions could still be useful instead of waiting
until the situation deteriorates further in India.
It is time for the US and the world to understand the serious threat posed by the Hindu nationalist movement to stability and security in the region.
The United States and the International community must understand that only an equitable, peaceful, and progressive society that is not affected by internal civil unrest could truly become a
productive partner in trade and security. A religiously volatile and socially disturbed society within India will be detrimental to the interest of the international community not just in South Asia
but across the Indian Ocean Corridor and beyond.
FIACONA asks the International governments, especially the industrialized nations to tread cautiously in endorsing or encouraging Hindu nationalist forces in India.
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JOHN PRABHUDOSS: JOHN@FIACONA.ORG
KOSHY GEORGE: PRESIDENT@FIACONA.ORG
YOU COULD ACCESS THE STATE DEPARTMENT'S REPORT ON INDIA HERE
FIACONA SUPPORTS THE USCIRF AND ITS COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE OF
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN INDIA DESPITE CHALLENGES:
(In favor of
May 10, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations (FIACONA) greatly appreciates the work of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
FIACONA recognizes and applauds the commitment of the Commissioners and the professional staff to the cause of Religious Freedom around the world despite pressure from various quarters and at times
The work of USCIRF is particularly important in India, as the governance and the justice systems there have often failed to defend the rights of Christians. Confirmed reports indicate that police
are also joining in mob violence against Christians lately in many parts of India. In many instances, the courts have blatantly favored the attackers instead of Christian victims. (The case against
Pastor Manu Damor and his wife is the most recent confirmed example of such an incident where the Pastor was arrested on April 4th and remains in jail as of May 4th for holding an Easter Sunday
worship for Christian families in the Indore district of the Central Indian state of Madya Pradesh).
Anti-conversion laws, passed by many BJP ruled states have been weaponized to attack Christians rather than dissuading fraudulent conversions. At the same time, forced Ghar Wapsi, or
“homecoming/re-conversion,” ceremonies of Christians to Hinduism are becoming a common occurrence with the apparent approval of the BJP governments across India. India’s Christians have become
victims of religiously motivated violence in the hands of vigilante mobs that are supported and encouraged by the members of the ruling BJP.
In the face of such difficulties, the work of USCIRF becomes immensely important. It is vital for USCIRF to speak with one voice and highlight the sufferings of Christian populations in vulnerable
parts of the world particularly in India as India is evolving into an ‘elected autocracy’ far from being a parliamentary democracy.
FIACONA appreciates the USCIRF’s commitment and solidarity with the Church in India in the face of growing pressure. The majority of the Commissioners have shown great resistance to pressure from
Hindu nationalists and their proxies. We applaud their resolve to stand in solidarity with the Indian Church at the hour of their need.
FIACONA congratulates Ms. Anurima Bhargava on her appointment as chair of this important Commission. We pray that she will have the strength and wisdom to lead the Commission effectively in the
FIACONA demands the resignation of Commissioners Johnnie Moore and Gary Bauer from USCIRF for their stand against the Christian victims of religious violence in India.
You could find the copies of the letters demanding their resignation here.
FIACONA WELCOMES THE USCIRF DESIGNATION OF INDIA AS A COUNTRY OF PARTICULAR CONCERN:
April 21, 2021. Washington DC. The Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations applauds the designation of India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) by the US Commission on
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today in Washington.
India has been going through tumultuous upheavals caused by the rise of Hindu nationalism in recent years. The formation of a national government by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) in 2014 under Mr. Narendra Modi has seriously jeopardized the fundamental constitutional rights of a vast majority of Christians and other religious minorities in modern India.
The Hindu nationalist cadre are given unofficial protection from the Administration for their vigilantism against the Christian population. Meanwhile, India based organizations have reported that
the attacks on churches and prayer meetings have dramatically gone up from even last year.
The justice system has often failed to defend the rights of persecuted Christians and other minority religions. Police have joined in mob violence against Christians, filed reports against the
victims, and courts have given favor to the attackers.
Anti-conversion laws, rather than dissuading “fraudulent conversions” have been weaponized in several states to stop conversions of any kind. At the same time Ghar Wapsi, or “homecoming,”
ceremonies of forceful conversion to Hinduism are applauded.
Incidents of anti-Christian violence rose from 147 in 2014, when Mr. Modi became prime minister, to 328 in 2019. India’s Christians suffered “225 incidents of religiously motivated violence” in
just the first ten months of 2020, many at the hands of vigilante mobs.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Christians in rural areas faced more opposition than ever as a result of their faith. According to Open Doors, Christians now face “economic problems as
well as the opposition and hatred from the community.”
Additionally, Christians in India have been denied emergency COVID relief: some being told that “your church or your God should feed you”. Reportedly, more than 80,000 Christians were turned away
from official government food distribution points, and had to seek aid elsewhere.
With all of these considerations in mind, FIACONA whole-heartedly agrees with USCIRF in their decision to continue the designation of India as a CPC for the year 2021.
As far as the Commissioner who disagrees with the majority decision on recommending India as a CPC, he has not only violated the mandate he has been given to study and report incidents of violence
against a people of particular religious faith in a country but he has also agreed with the aggressors who are determined to hurt the 2000 year old church in India. So, we recommend that he floats
once again down the Ganges to reflect on his monumental error in judgement and resign from the Commission.